Navigating Anxiety Spikes amid “reopening”

Depending on where you are the world around you is re-opening. For better or worse, here we go and as individuals with anxiety this will be a challenging period. We all have our own feelings on the pandemic, I have restricted my personal opinions (mostly) as I don’t seem to have a mainstream point of view. Needless to say as a libertarian this has been a very curious time. Without being cavalier though I concede fully, just because I feel a certain way doesn’t mean its right way.

We all have to navigate this stage of the game in our own way. I found a good article here that discusses how we might manage our anxiety as we all venture back out.

From the article: “The days and weeks ahead are sure to bring a good deal of anxiety, as so much uncertainty remains about COVID-19. While staying home all the time might not have been fun, it also removed many sources of stress, especially concerns about catching the virus. With our reemergence comes many questions about whether we’re doing the right thing and if we’re being careful enough—and of course concerns about the actions of others. Are our leaders making the right decisions? Will others thrown caution to the wind and get you sick?”

We can haggle over timing and specifics but I think we can all agree at some point we have to open back up. We cannot sustain the current model long term, it’s going to devastate our economy and residually negatively impact Millions more, if not Tens of Millions.

All that aside what about you and your anxiety? What do you do if you still are uncomfortable or are struggling with how to proceed? Your mental and physical health are paramount and just because everything is opening back up it doesn’t mean you have to be compliant.

Let’s be blunt, you are the best gauge of how you feel and how you think you can best move forward in this new reality. All the blog posts, all the comments, all the news outlets, all the government are not experts in you.

If you are uncomfortable, that’s okay. You make gradual small steps back to where you were before. As an example, a trip to the post office might be your weekly excursion back out there for now. That’s okay, you do not need to rush. As long as you have a secure income source, take your time and take care of your mental health.

There are many people out there now who are sick and tired of all this. That’s their right, it’s also your right to take things at your own pace. Stay safe, and take care of yourself.

The Importance of Sleep

Is this all a bad dream?

Do you remember your dreams? Parts of them? I do I have good dreams, I am thankful as I do know someone who has told me in the past they have vivid bad dreams. She claims they are the kind that wake her up at night. Now I have had those kinds of dreams before, you know your leg jumps, you fall and you wake up? I don’t have them regularly though. Apparently many people right now are having very vivid dreams tied to anxiety.

I found an interesting article here that discusses the issue

From the article: “In essence, our bodies are in a flight or fight response, which, as we know from watching any horror movie, is incompatible with sleep,” said Jason Ellis, a professor of sleep science at England’s Northumbria University and the director of Northumbria Sleep Research Laboratory. He and his colleagues recently published an article in the Journal of Sleep Research about practical tips for dealing with sleep problems during home confinement. He calls our unprecedented circumstances “the perfect sleep storm.” 

That maelstrom, he said, is unlikely to increase the amount of dreams we actually have, but it’s likely to increase the amount of dreams we remember. “The question,” he said, “is, why is the content so weird?”

The point here is people are remember more of their dreams, not actually having more. The article does a good job of giving examples and correlating the dreams to increased anxiety levels due to Covid 19 concerns. On this blog I have given out dozens of posts on how to fight anxiety, one of the key weapons we use is a good night’s sleep. So where does that leave us now?

We have to create the conditions of relief BEFORE we go to bed at night. If you are having bad dreams and they are becoming more and more vivid below are three things you can do before bed to help you first, get a better night’s sleep, second reduce the vivid bad dreams.

  1. 2 minutes of deep breathing: in through the nose out through the mouth. The deepest breaths you can take, in the dark in your bed sitting up. Do this BEFORE you lay down.
  2. Screens off 30-60 minutes before you retire: I’m not going to go on and on about how much screen time you should have. If its 15 min or 15 hours, you need to shut off the screen an hour (ideally) before you lay down to sleep not shut down and then go to bed.
  3. Prior to logging off the screens, laugh: Watch a funny video, read a joke, read a positive story. Whatever you have to do to actually laugh and smile do it. This will be the last “imprint” on your brain before you retire.

These steps are of course in reverse order. However they are listed in order of importance. Do step 3, then 2 then 1 and you will have the best result. Minimally you do step 1 every night. IF you are having more and more bad dreams due to the heightened anxiety world we are currently in, try these steps they will help you.

You are doing awesome, one day at a time.

8 weeks later In the U.S.

85,000 people (rounded) have died and 36 million (rounded) have lost their jobs. We can get into a debate on is one death to many? Is 36 million jobs loss worth the shut down? I’d rather not to be honest. Opinions are like yesterday’s everyone has them. If you are a “keep it locked down” or a “open the country now” person I respect your point of view. The point of this post is to illustrate how fast things go in the crapper.

This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface globally, the numbers above are U.S. only. The kicker here is many people want and expect the government to keep people afloat through the crisis. The problem with that is we have been running a deficit for decades and decades. So it’s literally going to come down to printing more money. When that happens money becomes worth less and less and we get into the horrible situation of where it costs more to buy less. History is full of situations like this, government bail outs, on the short term are effective but we are now looking at a 3 trillion “round two” stimulus…

That money will have to be printed, with 36 million out of work taxes will be way down. This is all taking a huge toll on people. Depression is up, mental illness is up its getting worse and worse. I found an article here that talks about the current working environment and how its impacting people.

From the article: “The staggering high unemployment and coronavirus recession are factors, but they aren’t the only factors contributing to the heightened mental health struggles and depression—feelings of hopelessness, emptiness, loss of energy, trouble sleeping, etc. Even those who remain employed are struggling. The unemployed are stressed and anxious about their future employment prospects and current and future financial circumstances. While the employed aren’t so sure they stand on solid ground either.”

Everyone is feeling this, there is no escape. If you are fortunate to still be able to work, or your job is coming back soon this is an extremely tenuous time. Everyone is on edge and companies are hemorrhaging money. Income is the most important factor in your financial health, and thus is important to your mental health.

Hang in there! Things are not great right now but they will improve. You should plan for an extended down turn in the job market. While things will likely improve mid-June – July it’s not likely we will get back to the prior economic highs we saw before corona. Holding on to your job is very important right now, the government will help you in the short term but long term federal and state aid will dry up.

It’s been a tough couple of months. I suspect we will still be on a rollercoaster ride through May. By July 4th we should see our new normal, most of us will be back to work in a semi normal state. Remember that your income is paramount, save what you can and take care of your needs first, help others second.

You are doing great, one day at a time.